Counselors' reflections on the administration of screening and brief intervention for alcohol problems in the emergency department and 3-month follow-up outcome

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The purpose of this paper was to explore how events that counselors endorsed occurring during an emergency department-based screening and brief intervention (SBI) for drinking discriminate patients who reported change in Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) domains at follow-up from those who did not.


Patients who scored “>5” on the AUDIT were eligible for SBI. At the end of each intervention, counselors completed the questionnaire indicating which parts of the intervention they just used.


Discriminant function analyses indicated that “Referral made” discriminated for alcohol intake change (Wilks' λ = 0.993, P < .05); “Did the patient set goals during intervention?” and “Referral made” discriminated for alcohol dependency change (Wilks' λ = 0.940 and Wilks' λ = 0.919, P < .05, respectively). “Intention to quit” (Wilks' λ = 0.984, P < .05) discriminated for alcohol-related harm change.


Making referrals to addiction treatment during motivational intervention discriminated for alcohol intake and dependency change. Working on intention to quit is an important point in changing alcohol-related harm. When conducting the SBI in ED, counselors may be mindful in making appropriate referrals to address alcohol use and examine intention to quit to maximize the efficacy of the harm-reduction approach.

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